Photography by Anthony Gomez • October 30, 2017

Photos: Nando’s

Having worked with Nando’s since 2007, Oak Park, Illinois’ Aria Group Architects faced a new challenge with the brand’s new H Street location in Washington, DC: turning two buildings into one restaurant. The idea, says project designer Megan Walsh, was “to embrace the beauty of the structures by letting the old brick and colorful plaster remnants inspire what the space should become” while still keeping Nando’s soulful South African design aesthetic intact.

To unify the two buildings, the existing façades were painted a dark blue-green to contrast the reclaimed wood planking applied on the lower half. Inside, vibrant notes abound: the order counter is covered in reclaimed turquoise stair balusters installed asymmetrically to complement the painted and stained slat tables and eclectic upholstery. Existing brick walls were untouched, offering a unique backdrop for South African art at the base of the stairs and the brand’s Peri-Peri spice story—a signature element found in each restaurant. The standout though is the 25-foot-tall chandelier spanning both floors. It features more than 400 pieces of rebar and brass and is “inspired by the bold and colorful beauty of South African beadwork married with the industrial material,” says Walsh, “a true testament of the character of the Nando’s brand.”